With a flippy blue wig and a campy persona, Bakesale Betty (known in her off-hours as Alison Barakat) has carved out her own niche of homey, out-of-this-world baked items that you wish your mom used to make. After moving to the Bay Area five years ago from Sydney, Australia, Betty landed a job as a line cook at Chez Panisse. In her off-hours she peddled her baked goods at the Walnut Creek, Alameda, and Danville farmers markets. Finally, in 2002, she decided to pursue the bakery biz full-time, and just a few weeks ago, opened her own bakery.

Located on the corner of Telegraph Avenue and 51st Street in Oakland’s up-and-coming (or has it already arrived) Temescal District, Betty’s new bakeshop is awash in bright hues of red and green, with retro ironing boards displaying her wares. Lined up along the countertop were rows and rows of her famous chewy ginger cookies and her succulent, dense, moist banana bread (which by the way is probably the best banana bread I’ve ever tasted).

In the back, as Betty and fellow bakers sampled what looked to be a heavenly strawberry shortcake, we tasted delicious nut-free brownies. Chewy, cakey, with the perfect crunchy outer crust, these are what brownies should taste like. Betty also sells lemon bars, rhubarb scones, sticky date pudding (another one of my all-time faves!), and oatmeal-raisin cookies (with walnuts). Soon to come are cakes and pies; she even plans to use special pie warmers so that customers can leave the bakery with a nice warm pie. Just like mom used to make and wouldn’t let you have.

There are a lot of fantastic bakeries in the Bay Area, but Bakesale Betty is unique, taking the comforts of home and making those special, take-you-back-to-childhood treats better than anyone else. Isn’t it nice to just swing by the local bakery and grab a thick slice of chewy honey-sweet banana bread to go with your coffee in the morning? I’m on my way now…

  • Anonymous

    look for them to add coffee and tea at breakfast time soon, and rumor has it that they’re experimenting with buttermilk fried chicken sandwiches and various pot pies to go for lunch…

  • Anonymous

    We went in on Saturday and tried the lemon bars – very tasty and the sample size is huge.

  • Kelly

    Went to the Walnut Creek Farmer’s market on Sunday and was so pleasantly surprised by Bakesale Betty’s stall. She is an amazing woman, so friendly, and very talented. Her banana bread is the BEST I’ve ever tasted, and her ginger cookies were so moist and chewy. Just the best. I can’t recommend her baked goods highly enough! Try Bakesale Betty’s, you won’t be disappointed.

    P.S. My husband and I are heading to her store in Oakland tomorrow morning (Saturday) for a look see! Can’t wait.

  • Anonymous

    Betty (alison) is the finest baker I have had the pleasure to meet in a long time and is a driving force for me to get out of bed on a Sunday morning and go down to the Walnut Creek Farmers’ Market.
    Her products are the best, straight forward and baked with love you can taste. The only flaw is the brownies….. they need Walnuts.

    We love you Bakesale Betty

  • Mary

    Twenty years ago, that was my neighborhood. It’s still arriving, I’d say, though I imagine the rents are going up.

    (And Betty’s sticky date pudding with caramel sauce? It makes me faint with joy.)

  • in2jazz

    I absolutely the banana bread at Bakesale Betty’s. I have stopped making my own and indulge on their banana bread often. Very friendly staff and perfect location. Here is a photo mosaic I recently put together of some of their baked goodness.

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